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Category Archives: politics

Limbaugh, Fluke, and the So-called “War on Women”

If you’ve aren’t up to speed on the whole contraception bru-ha thats’ been going on, here it is in a nutshell:

A few weeks ago, President Obama essentially stated that church-affiliated institutions would have to provide access to contraception coverage for their employees.  Religious institutions, lead by the Catholic church, immediately cried foul, saying they should continue to have an exemption based on moral grounds, i.e. the church does not believe in contraception.  After a huge stick erupted, Obama issued a compromise:  that insurance companies would not only be required to provide contraception directly to the employees of such institutions, which would circumvent the the employer, but that insurers would provide the contraception for free, as part of “preventive” coverage.  Conservatives say Obama is spearheading a “war on religion.”

Soon after, there was a hearing in the US House of Representatives about the issue.  Democrats criticized Republicans because the entire panel for the morning hearing was made up of men (there was an afternoon hearing with 2 women on the panel).  Dems had attempted to have a woman, Sandra Fluke, testify, but Republicans stated she was not added to the list in time.  Democrats say this is further proof that Republicans are at war with women.

A few days later, Fluke testifies at a Democrat-sponsored hearing.  The 3rd year law student at Georgetown Law spoke of how the fact that the school does not provide contraception coverage as part of its health plan made things difficult for female students, and that the contraception mandate should stay.  Jumping on this, radio talking head Rush Limbaugh called Fluke a “slut,” basically saying she implied she and other students want to be paid to have sex since they demand free contraception.  Under fire, Limbaugh has apologized.

Now, my thoughts, in no particular order…

Is there a war on women?  Personally, I don’t think there is.  However, Republicans aren’t doing themselves any favors.  Whether it’s the Georgia House passing a bill to lower the “deadline” for getting an abortion from 26 weeks to 20 weeks, or Virginia attempting to pass legislation requiring any woman wanting an abortion to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound first (referred to as a “mechanical rape” by one radio talk show host), one could say that conservative lawmakers, who are mostly male, do seem to have women’s reproductive parts in the crosshairs.  But its nothing new.  Things like this happen every year.  In this case, however, it’s an election year.  Gotta rev up the base!  Let’s see how independent voters respond.  After all, those are the voters that will determine the winners.

Sandra Fluke.  Who and why the uproar?  As mentioned before, Sandra Fluke is a law student who testified before the House.  She is also an activist who has advocated against child trafficking and for wider contraception coverage for women.  Fluke not getting to testify in that morning hearing actually worked to Democrats’ advantage; their later “hearing” where she spoke was not a hearing, and Fluke was not required to be under oath.  Plus, the public was introduced to the third year law student, not the experienced activist–very important for PR reasons.  Her main point of argument was that the policy dictating that students at religious institutions that do not want to provide contraception coverage be given direct access via insurance companies be upheld.  The impression given was, she came to Georgetown and didn’t realize contraception wasn’t covered.  However, in a previous interview, she acknowledged she knew before enrolling that it wasn’t covered but that she was “not willing to compromise the quality of my education in exchange for my health care.”  So, she knew what she was getting into ahead of time.

Medically necessary vs choice.  During her testimony, Fluke spoke of a student who had polycystic ovary disease.  Because she could not afford the cost of birth control out of pocket, and because the college didn’t cover it, she eventually had to have an ovary removed.  Fluke stated that in reply to Catholic supporters who asked what she expected when she enrolled at the institution, she answered that “we expected women to be treated equally, to not have our school create untenable burdens that impede our academic success.” I’m not sure where the unequal treatment is here.  Comparing contraception coverage to coverage of erectile dysfunction drugs is a false equivalence–one prevents pregnancy, while one doesn’t.  I would say that birth control pills used to cover a medical condition should be covered.  But how exactly does not having coverage for contraception impede academic success?  There are other forms of contraception available that are affordable on a college student budget.  And ultimately, though it sounds old school, if one can’t afford the ramifications of having sex, wouldn’t the ultimate answer be “don’t have sex?”

Rush Limbaugh and double standards.  Long story short, Rush Limbaugh issued an apology for calling Fluke a “slut” and making other disparaging comments.  It was an opening Democrats took full advantage of, taking his comments and implying that as the de facto leader of the GOP, his comments represented how the GOP felt about women.  They also stated he only apologized because he was losing sponsors–probably a true statement.  The problem is, there seems to be a double standard.  As outlined in a piece by Kirsten Powers, a number of left-leaning talking heads have made similar statements. Ed Schultz, Lawrence O’Donnell, Keith Olbermann, and especially Bill Maher have all gone off on women at one point or another, and didn’t get the wrath of the left dropped on them. Supposedly, the difference is the amount of influence Limbaugh has with the GOP, and that he is on the “public airwaves.” But bad statements are bad statements. Excusing your side while going after the other is simply political expediency.

I finish by pointing out two things.  First, credit to the President for using the situation as a way to score some bonus points.  He called Fluke to give her encouragement and see if she was ok.  How touching.  Second, a “right” is not a “right” if you are taking someone else’s stuff.  Free birth control isn’t a right, because someone else has to pay for it.

 

Random Blog Thoughts: Gay Marriage in Cali, Defining “Fairness,” Wisconsin Recall Election

Well, I’m back to blogging after a long hiatus. Let’s get back to the fun.

Recently, an appeals court overturned the gay marriage ban in California.  Proposition 8 had been voted into law with 52% of the vote in the state.  A lower court judge had ruled it unconstitutional, but proponents of Prop 8 appealed (one reason was the lower court judge was gay).  The appeals court upheld that ruling 2-1, saying there was no compelling reason for the law.  Proponents have vowed to appeal again, and take it to the SCOTUS if they have to.

As I mentioned the other day on my Facebook page, I don’t think that people understand there is civil marriage and there is church marriage.  Proponents of gay marriage bans tend to feel they must “protect the sanctity of marriage” by not letting gays get married.  Prop 8 proponents said that the government “shouldn’t be allowed to redefine” marriage.  If they want to maintain the status quo regarding marriage, so be it.  Do it at the CHURCH level.  But leave civil marriage alone.  Not everyone in religious.  And I have yet to hear exactly what threat allowing a subset of a group of people who represent about 3% of the population get married, civil unionized, or whatever, would have on heterosexual people getting married.  If gay marriage is such a threat, why is it that all the gay marriages that have occurred in states where it’s legal haven’t caused the world to come to an end?  More importantly, how can people who want to be called “conservative” and advocate for individual rights, then want the government to enforce a law simply in order to keep from being offended?  It doesn’t make sense.

Fairness.  A word that is getting used way too much.  More often it’s used lately in reference to the rich and how much they pay in taxes.  Mind you, there has been no definition given, but it creates a good soundbite.  Funny enough, a write wrote what I consider to be a humorous article in the Wall Street Journal, A Fairness Quiz for the President. Of course there is no chance there would be answers forthcoming from President Obama concerning the article. But asking questions such as “is it fair that the richest 1% of Americans pay nearly 40% of all federal income taxes, and the richest 10% pay two-thirds of the tax” and “Is it fair that wind, solar and ethanol producers get billions of dollars of subsidies each year and pay virtually no taxes, while the oil and gas industry—which provides at least 10 times as much energy—pays tens of billions of dollars of taxes while the president complains that it is “subsidized” can only leave us wondering what kind of answers the President would give if pressed.  And of course, the comments section below the article is quite entertaining.

And finally, there is the attempt in Wisconsin to recall Gov.  Scott Walker and other Republicans in office.  The main complain is that he took away public workers’ right to collective bargain.  Further, he dared do this having not said before he was elected that this was something he would do.  I didn’t realize a candidate has to spell out every single thing they hope to accomplish beforehand.  also, there is a corruption probe going on that seems to have nabbed someone close to him.  Its plain there is an effort afoot to get rid of him.  My problem is, how do you justify recalling someone whose  ideas are actually working?  There are school systems where collective bargaining didn’t take place that saved money and made no layoffs.  In other areas where the unions were able to force collective bargaining before the new law took effect, school districts are having to fire teachers to avoid budget gaps.  It will be interesting to see how the recall election plays out.

Cain Accused of Sexual Harrassment. Something to Worry About? Or Is He Gonna Get Clarence Thomas’ed?

The website Politico has done an investigation and found that while GOP frontrunner Herman Cain was head of the National Restaurant Association, there were two female employees who accused him of sexual harrassment.  The two were asked to leave the NRA in return for receiving cash settlements and promising to keep what happened under wraps.

You can read the article to get the details of the situation, but what comes to mind for me is simply this: how will this play out?  The criticism from the Left is already flying fast and furious.  He’s been called an Uncle Tom.  He’s being used by the Tea Party to cover up their racist leanings.  And so on.  Now, this gives detractors new ammunition.

But I wonder if many of the most vocal detractors will be people who were willing to give former president Bill Clinton a pass.  People who still talk about Anita Hill’s accusations of harrassment of Clarence Thomas while they were at the EEOC say nothing of how accusations of Clinton’s dalliances were floating around well before he ran for and won the presidency.  Paula Jones filed a lawsuit against Clinton in 1994 and was treated like a pariah–until “the dress” appeared and Clinton had to settle and also deal with getting impeached for perjury.

My point is, regardless of which side it happens to, its always interesting to see the reaction from the other side, whose supporters are usually quick to forget that they were fine with what happened when their person did it.  It’s only bad when the other side does it, right?

Having said that, is this something that, if true, should DQ Cain from the race?  Will this pass over, or will this become a stone around his neck?  Stay tuned.

Tone Down the Rhetoric? Biden Says Pass Obama Jobs Bill or Rapes Will Increase

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think I remember not too long ago that there were calls to tone down the political rhetoric in the wake of the Gabby Jeffords shooting.  Anyone else remember this?

Obviously the message was lost.  Recently, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi implied abortion funding legislation passed by Republicans would result in women dying on hospital floors with doctors not allowed to save them–because somehow, the legislation in question would prevent them from doing so.  Common sense tells us that that assertion is wrong and way over the top.  But lets move on.

Lately, Vice President Joe Biden has been out pushing for passage of President Obama’s jobs bill.  Evidently, it was not enough for him to simply say the bill is needed to create jobs.  Instead, the VP decided to take a different tack.  He decided the best method is to pull out one of the things that terrifies women most–rape. His assertion? That without passage of the bill, the number of police on America’s streets will decrease, and rapes and murders will increase. He first stated this at a rally in Flint, Michigan and even cited statistics. He then said it again a week later at a fireman’s rally in DC.

But there is a minor problem.  As I like to say, don’t let facts get in the way of a good argument.

In general, there are statistics out that show that in many places, even with fewer officers on the beat, crime rates have still gone down.  Specifically, the Fact Checker at the Washington Post obtained numbers for crime in Flint, where Biden first made his assertion, and showed that Biden overstated the number of rapes by a lot. On top of that, the Chief of Police in Flint has previously stated there was no real correlation to the size of the force and the amount of crime:

As the Flint Journal reported in May: “Officials said the fact that 46 police officers were laid off last year had little to do with the escalating crime. Most of the crimes were between people that knew each other. ‘No matter how many officers we have, we can’t stop disputes between two people in their own homes,’ Lock said.”

Lock made a similar assertion in September, 2010, when FBI statistics were released showing violent crime in Flint had decreased in 2009. The Flint Journal reported: “A smaller police force doesn’t automatically mean more crime, said Flint police chief Alven Lock. ‘There’s been years when we had 300 officers and we still had more homicides,’ he said, referring to 1986, when he was in the homicide division and homicides hit an all-time high of 61.”

I’m willing to bet that many other members of law enforcement say the same thing. Of course, that doesn’t make for a good political soundbite when one is trying to paint a picture of the opposing party as being ok with an increase in crime.

Another Person Who Agrees With Me–Reagan Would Be Persona Non Grata in Today’s GOP

On a couple of different occasions, I wrote about how former President Ronald Reagan probably could get elected by today’s GOP no matter how much they revere him (see here and here). It’s an opinion shared by a number of pundits across the blogosphere. Here is another example of exactly what I mean:

After trying (and failing) to disembowel Social Security, Reagan did an dramatic about-face and bailed out the program to the tune of $165 billion and made Social Security taxes more progressive, forcing upper-income Americans to shoulder more of the burden than their poor counterparts.
Reagan raised taxes 11 times! He passed the largest tax increase since World War II and introduced hefty new corporate taxes.

While conservatives like Sarah Palin tout Reagan’s record for standing up to the Soviet Union, they ignore that Reagan was attacked by far-right conservatives for being too conciliatory to the Communist bloc. When Reagan engaged in direct talks with Gorbachev and the Soviets, conservative leader Paul Wyerich wrote in The Washington Post, “Reagan is a weakened president, weakened in spirit as well as clout.”

Go here to read the rest. It’s definitely worth the read.

A Few Things to Make You Say “Hmmmmmmm…”

Each of these could be a blog piece by itself (and probably will be eventually).  But for now, here are some things to make you say “hmmmmmm,” or scratch your head, or go buy a stiff drink…

THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOOD AT PICKING WINNERS (part 1):  The government has ordered the phasing out of the trusty incandescent light bulb, which means we all have to go out and get the curly-looking compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs.  Sure they are more energy efficient.  But they also have a small amount of mercury in them.  Broken one lately?  Have you seen the steps involved to clean up after one breaks? But that’s not the worst part. Because of the government mandated change, GE has closed all of their incandescent light bulb plants in the US. At a time when unemployment is already high, that’s more jobs lost.

THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT GOOD AT PICKING WINNERS (part 2): The search for alternative fuels is very worthwhile. Except when the government is subsidizing it. Let’s talk ethanol. First, the government subsidizes ethanol production with taxpayer dollars. Second, there is a tariff placed on the importation of Brazilian sugar cane ethanol, as a way of protecting US production (it would be cheaper otherwise). The result? Not only are food prices (especially corn) higher because farmers are spending more time growing corn for ethanol, but the end product has been found to damage small engines over time. Oh, and then the government tells us ethanol is cheaper per gallon. Right.

HE’S TALKING ABOUT THE TEA PARTY, RIGHT?: Here is a recent quote from Senator John Kerry:

“And I have to tell you, I say this to you politely. The media in America has a bigger responsibility than it’s exercising today. The media has got to begin to not give equal time or equal balance to an absolutely absurd notion just because somebody asserts it or simply because somebody says something which everybody knows is not factual.”

“It doesn’t deserve the same credit as a legitimate idea about what you do. And the problem is everything is put into this tit-for-tat equal battle and America is losing any sense of what’s real, of who’s accountable, of who is not accountable, of who’s real, who isn’t, who’s serious, who isn’t?”

Let me guess. The press should ignore the Tea Party, their supporters, and maybe even the GOP because they lie, right? Got it. By the way, Senator, would you apply that standard to your own party? Because I’m sure we’d see a lot less of some of your pals.

SPEAKING OF LYING…: This one came to my attention earlier today. Senator Harry Reid said earlier this month that there were 8 million jobs lost during the Bush years. Unfortunately, it is an easily provable lie:

As always, we looked at jobs numbers compiled by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the government’s official source of employment data.

During Bush’s eight years in office — January 2001 to January 2009 — the nation actually gained a net 1.09 million jobs. (Because there were gains in government jobs, the private sector actually lost 653,000 jobs during that period.)

This isn’t remotely close to what Reid claimed. Reid’s office didn’t respond to our request for information, but we think we know what he was referring to.

From the economy’s peak to its low point, the nation lost 8.75 million jobs. Here’s the problem: The peak for jobs came in January 2008, while the low point for jobs came in February 2010.

This means the starting point for Reid’s measure came seven years into Bush’s eight-year tenure, and the low point occurred about a year into Barack Obama’s tenure.

‘Nuff said.

ON TAXING THE RICH:  According to the IRS, there are over 8,200 income earners that earn more than $10 million per year.  Their combined income is $240 billion/year.  If you taxed them at 100%, it would be enough money to pay for government spending for a whopping 22 days.

Finally, I leave you with this thought, which most definitely will take on a life of its on another day in another post…

PARTISAN VOTERS HAVE NO CLUE WHAT AN INDEPENDENT VOTER IS: We get accused of straddling the fence, or of taking no stance. Even worse, we get attacked by both sides if we actually accept a view held by one party over another. But it’s simple. We look at the views and candidates available and choose what we like, regardless of what side it represents, and it could vary from week to week, from party to party, or from election to election. I’ve learned that instead of constantly fighting accusations that I’m not independent, I will simply stop feeding the trolls and continue business as usual.

Party on, dudes!

Texas Gov. Rick Perry is Stupid. Oh, and He’s Racist. ALL Republicans are Stupid and Racist!

As expected, Texas Governor Rick Perry entered the crowded GOP presidential field over the weekend.  Him tossing his hat in the ring was a non-event, as people had been expecting him to enter for a while now.  No offense to Michelle Bachmann, but most bets right now are figuring this to be a two-horse race between Perry and former governor Mitt Romney.  (Sidenote:  is becoming president worth running multiple times and spending millions of your own money??)

Almost immediately, the attacks on Perry started coming.

It’s no secret that the Left loves attacking their political opponents via cracks at their intelligence.  Folks on the left will wax poetically on about how intelligent Obama is and how stupid George W. Bush is, or how stupid Michelle Bachmann is.  I can’t recall anyone on the Left referring to Al Gore being stupid even though his grades were actually worse than Bush’s.  And even when such an observation was made, it was done in a way to still make Gore–the Lefty–not look so bad:

His generally middling college grades at Harvard in fact bear a close resemblance to the corresponding Yale marks of his presidential opponent, George W. Bush, whose studiousness and brainpower have been more open to question during this campaign.

Gore arrived at Harvard with an impressive 1355 SAT score, 625 verbal and 730 math, compared with Bush’s 1206 total from 566 verbal and 640 math. In his sophomore year at Harvard, Gore’s grades were lower than any semester recorded on Bush’s transcript from Yale. That was the year Gore’s classmates remember him spending a notable amount of time in the Dunster House basement lounge shooting pool, watching television, eating hamburgers and occasionally smoking marijuana. His grades temporarily reflected his mildly experimental mood, and alarmed his parents. He received one D, one C-minus, two C’s, two C-pluses and one B-minus, an effort that placed him in the lower fifth of the class for the second year in a row.

But I digress.

Recently, The Huffington Post jumped into the fray by announcing they had obtained a copy of Rick Perry’s college transcript.  As is usually the case, the intended implication is that maybe Perry ain’t so bright:

One reason that might explain his hostility toward the system: He didn’t do very well in it. A source in Texas passed The Huffington Post Perry’s transcripts from his years at Texas A&M University. The future politician did not distinguish himself much in the classroom. While he later became a student leader, he had to get out of academic probation to do so. He rarely earned anything above a C in his courses — earning a C in U.S. History, a D in Shakespeare, and a D in the principles of economics. Perry got a C in gym.

Nevermind that the debate should center on what he has done since then, or maybe even focus on his term as governor, or even that release of a transcript without permission of the student may be illegal. No. Let’s go back to college so we can legitimately say (say it along with me now) “Rick Perry is stupid!!”

Now, the other preferred method of attack is to find a way of labeling the GOP as “racist.”  Nevermind that the word has been misused so much that most people don’t even know the real definition, or don’t realize that “bigot” or “prejudiced” would probably be better if the argument actually applied.

MSNBC talking head Ed Schultz decided to prove Perry is a racist.   Now, mind you, the Left is always on the case when it comes to calling out statements they don’t like, especially when they are made by Limbaugh, Hannity, and other Conservative talking heads.  Somehow, they never mind when people like Schultz pull absurd statements out of their sphincter void and toss them out like gospel.

Rick Perry gave a speech where he referred to America’s debt as a “black cloud hanging over us.”  So what did Schultz do?  He had his people do some selective editing:

Yep.  Let’s leave out a key phrase–“that debt”–and make a case out of it, going so far as to invite guests on who you know will agree with you.  Schultz did apologize.  “On this particular statement, we should not have included it in our coverage of his overheated rhetoric,” he said in a statement.   “That’s our mistake. The full context of all of these other statements show who he is and what he stands for.”

In other words, “sorry we faked THAT one, but he’s still a racist!”

Next, we’ll start hearing about how GOP candidates are ugly and dress funny.

Do Politicians Understand What “Stimulus” Means? I Think Not.

Is it so difficult that the idea behind a “stimulus” package, or “stimulus” spending, or “stimulus” funding would be to stimulate the economy via job creation?  Somehow, politicians aren’t getting this.  The suggestions made by them aren’t ones that include a job multiplying effect.  In other words, for stimulus to be effective, it has to go towards something that creates a job, which directly creates a need for additional jobs, and so on.

Earlier this week, during a press conference, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked how extending unemployment benefits creates jobs.  His reply?

“There are few other ways that can directly put money into the economy than applying unemployment insurance,” Carney said.

Carney answers the question: “It is one of the most direct ways to infuse money directly into the economy because people who are unemployed and obviously aren’t running a paycheck are going to spend the money that they get. They’re not going to save it, they’re going to spend it. And with unemployment insurance, that way, the money goes directly back into the economy, dollar for dollar virtually.”

This is similar to a comment made by former Speaker of the House Rep. Nancy Pelosi:

Economists will tell you this money is spent quickly. It injects demand into the economy, and is job creating. It creates jobs faster than almost any other initiative you can name because, again, it is money that is needed for families to survive, and it is spent. So it has a double benefit. It helps those who have lost their jobs, but it also is a job creator.

Back when Pelosi made the comment, as you can see from the feedback on the Media Matters page, they were more than happy to show how economists backed up what she said, while right-leaning critics were going nuts and criticizing her.

Regardless of the economists that affirmed her statement (and even the CBO), we can now agree that the assertion was wrong.

Maybe I’m out in left field here, but I am willing to wager that the majority of people who are collecting unemployment benefits are spending the money on necessities–food, power, gas, phone, ect.  While the money is technically going into the economy, its not going in for things that will create more jobs.  Listening to Carney, Pelosi, and those who agree with them, it’s as if the unemployment benefits are disposable income.  Paying the bills is not a job multiplier.

Likewise, the expressed opinion of the Left is that the stimulus was a success.  Even a CBO report says that it had some success. From Factcheck.org:

As we have written before, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report in August that said the stimulus bill has “[l]owered the unemployment rate by between 0.7 percentage points and 1.8 percentage points” and “[i]ncreased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million.”

Simply put, more people would be unemployed if not for the stimulus bill. The exact number of jobs created and saved is difficult to estimate, but nonpartisan economists say there’s no doubt that the number is positive.

But the key words are “created and saved.” Many of the jobs that received stimulus money were to maintain exisiting positions, not create new ones. Much of the money went to states to help prevent them from firing government workers. Not to mention, as the President himself said not too long ago, some of the shovel-ready jobs were “not so shovel-ready.” (Sidenote: he chuckled after cracking this joke. Looking at the cost of the stimulus, and how those shovel-ready projects were talked about ad nauseum to get the bill passed, its not very funny.) Again, in the end, for the section of the stimulus intended to create jobs and stimulate the economy, based on the unemployment rate since then, there was no multiplier effect.

So, with calls coming for another stimulus, we should be afraid.  Be very afraid.

Random Thoughts: White House and the Ratings Downgrade, Al “global warming” Gore Unhinged, Wisconsin Recall Elections

Just a few thoughts and observations:

With the recent downgrade of the country’s credit rating by Standard & Poor’s, the White House had to blame someone for what happened.  So they complained loudly about how S&P had made a mistake with the downgrade, even pointing out an accounting error that S&P made that made things look worse than they really are.  Then, they came out and blamed the Tea Party for causing the downgrade.  I’m confused.  If S&P made a mistake, it would have nothing to do with the Tea Party, right?  Then again, everything is the Tea Party’s fault, from what I hear.

The other day, President Obama did a press conference to address the credit downgrade.  While he was giving his speech, the stock market dropped 200 points.  Ouch.

Speaking of Standard & Poor’s, how do you go forward with a downgrade even after you’re told you made an accounting error?  Simple.  Just blame the politicians!  Say it’s because Congress can’t work together.  Come up with a worthy excuse.  But just don’t own up to it.  By the way, they didn’t downgrade Lehman Brothers until AFTER they imploded…

Former Vice President and current Global Warming–uh,  Climate Change– crusader Al Gore was giving a speech recently and ran off the rails.  Seems he was calling BS on those who don’t agree with him, and called the scientists who put out anti-warming info fake.  I could’ve sworn that the main basis for the argument is whether or not the changes occurring are man made or natural.  But I digress.

It’s recall season in Wisconsin.  Democrats, angry that the Republican-led Legislature changed collective bargaining law, were able to collect signatures to force a recall election for 6 Republican state senators.  In order to have a chance at taking control of the state Senate, they needed to win 3 of the seats up for recall.  Unfortunately for them, they only won 2.  There are more elections coming but they will have no chance at winning control until the next election.  If the Dems had succeeded, I think it would’ve sent shockwaves nationwide.  Having said that, pay attention to the redistricting fights going on in the states.  Redistricting happens every 10 years and the party in power at the time in a particular state usually tries to stack things in their favor.  Look and see how strange some districts end up looking just to accomplish either keeping a rep in office or getting the opposition OUT of office.

Random Thoughts: Obama/Boehner Disrupting Prime Time, “Fair Share,” Political Garbage Speak, ect

Just some random thoughts:

Why did the President and the Speaker waste our prime time last night?  President Obama took his time to get in front of the mic and say the same things he has said in his press conferences the past few weeks.  He threw in some statements about negotiations, made some nice statements about Speaker Boehner, and made sure to trot out his tried-and-true, base-energizing catchphrases:  “corporate jet owners;” “millionaires and billionaires;” “breaks we don’t need” (paraphrased).  You pushed back the start of our 8 pm shows for this??  Even worse, I listened to Chris Matthews afterwards and heaven forbid, he said something I agree with; he said usually, Presidents only request prime time to make an announcement or to make news.  This speech was neither and shouldn’t have been done in prime time.  Write it down somewhere–I agreed with Chris Matthews!  Then, House Speaker Boehner jumps up with the canned response.  There are really only two things I pulled out of his speech:  1)he had a couple of zingers at Obama’s expense that were funny, and 2)Republicans are now going to position the President’s stance as wanting a “blank check” since he did not support their Cut, Cap, and Balance bill.  The election may be next year, but the game is already afoot.

Speaking of corporate jets:  First, if the tax break in question was eliminated, it would save a whopping $3 billion.  Over ten years.  Yes, ten.  Trillions in deficits and we’re talking $3 billion.  Second, Obama is responsible for the very tax break he criticizes.  See the stimulus bill for more details.  Third, he has people thinking these “corporate jet owners” are just average wealthy individuals with money to burn.  For the most part, based on the tax break, the owners of corporate jets tend to be…wait for it…CORPORATIONS!!  Way to muddy the issue for duh masses, Mr. President.

Did he really mention Reagan?:  Obama referred to Ronald Reagan in his speech in order to take a swipe at Republicans.  Reagan’s quote somewhat supported what the Left has been saying.  The irony is, I noticed Obama didn’t quote HIMSELF from 2006, when he was talking about how raising the ceiling was a failure in leadership.  Or what about Harry Reid, who  fought against a debt-celing increase that same year and asked  “How can (Repubicans) explain that they think it’s fair to force our children, our grandchildren, our great grandchildren tofinance this debt through higher taxes?”  Now THOSE are quotes that should’ve gotten some airtime.

If all else fails, let’s create some wealth and income envy:  My friends on the left need to own up to this.  Their belief in raising taxes creates a need to make the rest of America mad at the wealthy.  You can hear it when the President speaks of the previously mentioned corporate jet owners.  Or when he talks about tax breaks that high-earners “don’t need.”  You even get it when he speaks of the oil companies.  Lest we forget, Dems want to take a tax break away from the top 5 oil companies, since they are making so much money.  Absurdity, not only because we’re talking about a small amount of money ($21 billion over 10 years), but because it would then be a break that every company in America EXCEPT those 5 oil companies could take advantage of.  But hey, Big Oil is evil and they need to pay up!

Can someone define “fair share?”:  Sometime soon this will get its own post.  I’ve heard my friends and the President refer to fairness in various terms when it comes to taxes.  But I don’t understand what that means, since I’ve never heard it defined.  What is fair?  Based on the proportion of taxes paid, high-income earners pay a ton.  We hear about hedge fund managers paying less than their secretaries, but is it unfair that they take advantage of lawful tax deductions and such?  And do they really pay less than the secretary, or is that just another one of those garbage speak political catchphrases referred to earlier?  I would go with the latter.

Dems Say They Just Want to Go Back to pre-Bush Tax Rates. Don’t Be Fooled.

For years now, Democrats have been lobbying to have the current tax rates pushed back up to where they were before Bush II cut the rates.  The top marginal rate, now 35%, would go up to 39.6% for individuals earning more than $200,000 per year and families earning more than $250,000 per year.  Claims such as the rich need to pay their “fair share” (a term that is an undefined value, but effective in getting folks riled up), or that the rich have benefitted for long enough and need to pay up, are always used to try and bolster the argument.  I support the idea of raising the marginal rates for EVERYONE to where they were before the Bush tax rate cuts, and have said so many times.  But I discovered that, under further review, Democrats are attempting to go even further in their quest to turn high income earners into bigger cash cows for the government.

What most people don’t realize–and Dems aren’t going to hip folks to it–is that once the healthcare reform plan (“Obamacare”) goes into full effect, the tax rates for $200k/$250k earners will be more than they were pre-Bush.  How?  I’m glad you asked.

Baked into Obamacare are a number of tax rate increases designed to raise revenue to pay for the bill.  The number of taxes built in varies depending on which source you use, but there were two that jumped out at me.

First, there is a new 3.8% surtax on investment income for the over $200k/$250k crowd.  Currently, the tax rate on capital gains (profit made from an investment) and dividends (cash received for owning stock in a company) is at 15%.  The new surtax will push that rate up to 18.3%.  When the argument is made to go back up to the pre-Bush rate, which was 20%, there is no mention of the surtax.  If Democrats have their way, the rate for capital gains and dividends would be at least 23.5%.

Next, there is the 0.9% Medicare surtax, also for the $200k/$250k people.  Currently, 1.45% of everyone’s income is deducted to pay for Medicare.  Unlike Social Security, there is no cap on taxable income, so everything the person makes in income is taxed at the 1.45% rate.  However, with the new surtax, income over the $200k/$250k threshold will see a 0.9% tax increase, making the new tax rate 2.35%.  Instead of raising the top rate 4.6% to get it back to pre-Bush levels, the increase would actually be 5.5%.

A different discussion for another day is the laundry list of other taxes built in, such as the tanning tax, the medical device tax, the health insurers tax, ect.  The bottom line is, these taxes make the “we just want to go back to pre-Bush rates” argument nothing more than political foolery.  And, as usual, most of the masses fall for it.

Where Does Tax Rhetoric Meet Reality?

There has been a lot of talk lately about taxes.  George W. Bush lowered tax rates twice while in office.  Democrats portray those cuts as “tax cuts for the rich” as though no one else benefitted–not even the large number of folks who were removed completely from the tax rolls due to the minimum taxable amount being increased.  Democrats also complain about the cost of the cut for the richest folks, constantly ignoring that the cost of the cut for the other brackets was 3 times as much.  Obama then extended those cuts, much to the chagrin of the Dems.

Now, as talk of deficit reduction and debt reduction heats up, there is much hand wringing going on regarding what to cut and where to get more revenue.  Democrats, of course, say raise taxes.  Republicans say no.

Republicans are playing hardball in terms of tax policy, saying no tax increases will be on the table.  In a way, I can agree, as the more important thing is to lower spending.  Not only that, but the government has a pattern in place:  every time more money comes in, they find a way to spend it.  Without going into detail, the fact that by law, surplus Social Security money is put into the general fund for spending purposes is a prime example.  Anyway, Republicans have their own tax mantra that they will say over and over and over again:

Tax cuts spur economic growth.  But tax increases destroy the economy and destroy jobs!

Having heard this so many times, I finally wondered how much truth there is to this.  Nevermind that I personally believe that taxes can be increased with with no devastating effect to the economy.  I wanted to know what history has shown.  Was there any conclusive proof that showed where tax increases had really hurt the economy?

From what I knew already, I knew that there were examples where tax rate cuts had at least helped spur the economy.  Higher taxes helped fund World War II.  JFK also decreased taxes, which led to economic growth.  Even under G.W. Bush, the economy grew after his tax rate cuts, though in a very tepid fashion.  But what about tax increases?

I was skeptical that I would find evidence and was convinced that the notion was simply a Republican talking point, but there is indeed proof.

  • President Herbert Hoover signed a major tax increase in 1932.  The top marginal rate was increased from 25% to 63%, among other rate increases.  Tax revenues in 1933 were 42% of what they were just two years prior.  Unemployment rose to nearly 25%.  Slowly, though, the economy recovered until…
  • In 1937, Roosevelt signed into law new tax increases.  The result was that the economy went back into recession and didn’t come back until during WWII.  Truman actually cut taxes during that time and by the end of the decade there were budget surpluses.
  • Reagan signed a major tax rate cut in 1981.  Many Republicans like to point this out about Reagan and say that those cuts are why the economy grew during the Reagan years.  But that leaves out part of the story.  Reagan signed a number of tax increases starting in 1982.  Tax loopholes were closed and Social Security was overhauled.  Businesses ended up paying more taxes as a result.  Despite this, there was still economic growth.
  • During the 90s, Clinton raised taxes.  The country was coming out of a recession, and even with the tax increases, the economy grew.  Clinton did, however, also lower taxes on capital gains in the mid-90s.  Many say it was actually the tax cut and not the increase that provided the huge boost in revenue to the government.

So, what is the outcome of my info hunt?  Well, as usual, both sides will make declarations without telling the entire story.  But right now, Republicans are most guilty of cherry picking.  While it’s true that some tax increases did real damage, both Reagan and Clinton showed tax increases can be done and they NOT throw the economy into chaos.  I will also point out that they are especially guilty of ignoring Reagan’s tax increases (yes plural) when talking about how his cuts grew the economy.

Bottom line, rolling tax rates back to pre-Bush levels will not damage the economy.  Just like before, businesses will still find a way to survive and eventually thrive, the economy will grow, and there will be jobs.

Dems Want to End Oil Company Subsidies. Another Fight Over Chump Change

Oil companies, aka “Big Oil,” have been a constant target of the Left for as long as I can remember.  Oil companies don’t control the price of oil, and only make a couple of pennies off the sale of gas, but one would never know that from listening to the constant berating they receive.  Since most of us drive to get from A to B, we have to buy gas.  When oil prices go up, so do gas prices.  When this happens, SOMEBODY has to be the boogeyman.  Why not those mean, nasty Big Oil companies?  Any report of high profits must be attacked–in spite of the fact that the profit margins of the same oil companies tend to stay the same.  Not only that, but they don’t even rank in the top 10 in terms of profit margins, yet companies with far greater margins don’t get nearly the attention.  Its as though cheap gas is some type of right, not just a commodity.

Recent world events have sent the price of oil to major highs.  Subsequently, some of the larger oil companies had record profits to report.  Right on time, members of the Left were quick to start yelling about record profits, as well as government subsidies that oil companies receive.

Just to be clear (thank you, Pres. Obama.  I love that phrase!), in a time of high deficits, I’m in favor of major cuts in corporate subsidies.  We shouldn’t be borrowing money to fund ethanol (proven to be a waste of time), fund farms, ect.  If there is an argument to be made, argue for getting rid of all of them.

But that is not the argument being made.  Democrats in Congress are rallying to end corporate subsidies for the major oil companies.  They basically say the companies don’t need it, and the money can be used to lower the deficit.  I want to say amen but I find myself laughing at this.  Why?  Because just like with the budget negotiations, we have politicians making a huge deal over a relatively small amount of money.  The projected savings from ending just those subsidies is $21 billion over 10 years.  Yes, my fellow Americans, with trillion dollar deficits projected over that same time period, Democrats are yelling about what amounts to an average of $2.1 billion per year.

Is it a lot of money?  To us, yes.  As part of a multi-trillion dollar budget?  No.  This is nothing but a political ploy.  A game.  An attempt to lash out at those mean nasty oil companies.  Someone let me know when the games end and folks get serious.

From Contributor “ODA3”: Why I am less qualified to be President than President Obama! – 10 Red Flags

In the midst of all of the Birther nonsense, I decided to look at my own “Birth Certificate” to see if I would be eligible to run for the Presidency of the United States. To my surprise, with the information I know about our President’s birth certificate I think I might receive even more scrutiny than he has.

First off, there is a lot of controversy over “Birth Certificate” vs. “Certificate of Live Birth”. Well mine says “Copy of Record of Birth” (RED FLAG 1). Oh boy, I get the feeling the Birthers would have a field day just with that alone! The date on this copy is April 1990. I’m sure my mom needed it to get me a passport or something and most likely lost the original somewhere between moving up and down the east coast. It has a raised seal and most of the information seems to be in order.  My full name is spelled out. Date of Birth and Place of Birth as expected. Time of Birth: BLANK (RED FLAG 2). Sex: M. Good. Color: BLANK (RED FLAG 3). Wait, what’s going on here? Surely the people at the hospital knew when I was born and that I was Black. And why haven’t I noticed all of this earlier?

Now here comes the good stuff.

Understand my parents were not married when I was born. They were married 3 days later. But that’s okay. To my knowledge I was born in a hospital. But when I look at the Copy of Record of Birth, I noticed that my mom’s name is written with my father’s last name and her maiden name in parentheses. I would have expected to see her name with her maiden name last or her previous married name (RED FLAG 4). Not so. How did that happen? And what’s this: Date of Original Record July 18. I was born in June (RED FLAG 5)! Date of Amendment: BLANK (RED FLAG 6). So the record was generated a month after I was born. This wouldn’t be likely if I had been born in a hospital. Was I smuggled in from Canada?

Officials in Hawaii have certified that not only does the long form of President Obama’s certificate exist, but there are both typed and hand-written notes in the file from the doctor who birthed him, as would be expected. My Copy of Record of Birth doesn’t say what time I was born, what color I am, and…what’s this? How did I miss this before? THIS IS MY MOTHER’S HANDWRITING!!!!! No doubt about it! The majority of this form was written by my own mother! I’m sure of it (RED FLAG 7). The only think not is the signature of the Registrar of Vital Records and Statistics who official swears by the facts for the Department of Public Health. So maybe the process was: you fill out the document and the registrar verifies and signs it? Yes that’s it. Interestingly, there’s a grease stain right on top of the signature (RED FLAG 8). It must be to cover up the white-out I used on the signature.

I talked to my mom about this Easter Sunday. It turns out I was not born in a hospital as I have been telling people for 30 years. It was a women’s clinic (RED FLAG 9). It wasn’t Planned Parenthood but I’m sure that’s what the GOP do-gooders are thinking. My mom and dad took me and the information to the proper agency to get my birth certificate, and at the same time, they also changed my older sister’s last name (which had been my mother’s previous married name). It all sounds plausible. But where is the proof that I was born in the US? Not that it matters, both of my parents are US citizens. My mom has never left the country in her life.  None of those facts would matter to a Birther though. Facts are simply annoyances to them.

So maybe there’s nothing for a Birther to be worried about. After all, my Copy of Record of Birth was good enough to get me a passport, why not a ticket to the Oval Office. Oh, did I mention that my mom used to work for the US Passport Office? Yep. Didn’t even have to wait in line! And I’m sure that in no way had any effect on the scrutiny that my application received (RED FLAG 10).

Becoming President Can Make You Hypocritical

We’ve seen it many times. Candidate runs for President and says “I will do A, B, and certainly C.”  They then get into office…and suddenly, a few of those promises are conveniently forgotten.  With the recent actions in Libya, President Obama has joined the club.

First, a few quotes from then-Senator Obama about the US and military actions:

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

Then-State Senator Obama on why the US shouldn’t go into Iraq, circa 2002:

“I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted U.N. inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity … But … Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors …”

Fast forward to 2011. Quaddafi is no threat to the US. They only produce 2 percent of the world’s oil. But not only are we participating in Operation Odyssey Dawn against Libya, we did so without Congressional advice and consent. A complete 180-degree turn on both counts, no?

Links:
“Q and A with Presidential Candidate Obama”

“From Iraq to Libya, Obama Becomes a Hypocrite”

See, It’s Not Just the “Tax Cuts for the Wealthy” That Are Adding to the Deficit!

As mentioned here before, arguments complaining about how the “tax cuts for the rich” are unpaid for and adding to the deficit is disingenuous without an accompanying argument about the similarly “unpaid for” tax rate cuts for everybody else–which cost three times as much.  Somehow, no one wants to talk about that.

Today the CBO released an analysis of President Obama’s 2012 budget proposal.  According to the analysis, while the Obama administration predicted $7.2 trillion in deficits over the next 10 years, the CBO stated that the number is more like $9.5  trillion.

Nine-point-five.  Trillion.  With a “T.”

But what also jumped out of the analysis is that the CBO predicts that tax rate cuts for the middle class will be made permanent–and the cost of that cut is going to help increase the deficit:

CBO said the biggest reasons for the deficits, compared to the status quo, are the permanent extension of the Bush-era tax rates for the middle class and changes to the Alternative Minimum Tax that Obama favors in this budget. As a result of the tax policy, there is a $2.7 trillion net increase in the deficit over the next 10 years.

There you have it, folks. criticizing the rich may be en vogue, but if there is to be honesty in this, all tax rate cuts must be discussed.

And then, rolled back.

What Was That About Toning Down Rhetoric? Biden Uses Rape to Describe Repubs

Not too long ago there was so much talk about toning down rhetoric.  Even before that, using rape or things related to rape to describe your opponents was darn near taboo.  But today, Vice President Joe Biden pulled that one out at a fund raiser.  His logic?  According to an account in at thehill.com, “Republicans who want to cut spending while at the same time cutting taxes for the wealthy are similar to rape apologists:”

“When a woman got raped, blame her because she was wearing a skirt too short, she looked the wrong way or she wasn’t home in time to make the dinner,” Biden said.

“We’ve gotten by that,” he said. “But it’s amazing how these Republicans, the right wing of this party – whose philosophy threw us into this God-awful hole we’re in, gave us the tremendous deficit we’ve inherited – that they’re now using, now attempting to use, the very economic condition they have created to blame the victim – whether it’s organized labor or ordinary middle-class working men and women.”

The countdown clock has started to see how long before the women’s groups yell about this. It’s so off the wall, I won’t even go into how crazy he sounds still talking about an “inherited deficit” when we are going into year 3 of the Obama administration, especially with the amount of money that has been spent in the last 2 years alone.

Rep. Keith Ellison’s Teary Hearing Speech Gets a Lot of Press. Too Bad It Wasn’t True

Yesterday, Rep. Peter King conducted a hearing into radicalization in America:

Rep. Pete King (R-N.Y.) rejected calls from nearly 100 Democratic members to cancel the highly controversial hearing as he carried out his attempt to explore whether the U.S. Muslim community is being radicalized.

King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said the four-hour hearing was “successful” and announced plans to hold another in the next several months on the radicalization of Muslim Americans in the U.S. prison system.

“This was an extremely productive, worthwhile hearing,” King told reporters after it ended. “I am more convinced than ever that it was the appropriate hearing to hold. We broke down a wall of political correctness on an issue which has to be addressed.”

There was, of course, plenty of drama on hand due to the controversy stirred up leading to the hearing, but one speaker who received a lot of press–even before the hearing was even over–was Rep. Keith Ellison, for his teary presentation at the beginning of the hearing:

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, broke into tears during the hearing as he spoke of a 23-year-old Muslim New York Police Department cadet and paramedic named Mohammed Salman Hamdani who was killed trying to save people from the crumbling World Trade Center buildings on 9/11.

Ellison became visibly emotional when he began describing how people spread false rumors after his death that Hamdani had helped the terrorists attack the U.S. Ellison was barely able to finish his statement but said he was concerned that fear-based rumors and prejudice could arise from Thursday’s hearing as well.

However, an interesting thing came to light: either Ellison got his story mixed up, or it just isn’t true:

Does Ellison’s account check out with reality?

No. It is actually pretty close to the opposite of the truth. In fact, six weeks after the September 11 attacks — before Hamdani’s remains were identified, which Ellison implies to be the turning point of public perception — Congress signed the PATRIOT Act into law with this line included: “Many Arab Americans and Muslim Americans have acted heroically during the attacks on the United States, including Mohammed Salman Hamdani, a 23-year-old New Yorker of Pakistani descent, who is believed to have gone to the World Trade Center to offer rescue assistance and is now missing.” That is, Hamdani was actually singled out for particular high honors among the thousands of victims of the September 11 attacks.

There’s little evidence of the “rumors” of which Ellison speaks, either. Poke around yourself. Go to Google and search for Mohammed Salman Hamdani’s name, using various time frames from before today’s hearings (say, in the week after the September 11 attack). You’ll discover two discordant sets of returns: none for sites and news reports accusing Hamdani of being a terrorist, and many thousands of pages honoring him as a hero while claiming that he was “widely accused” of being a terrorist.

So, one has to wonder if Rep. Ellison didn’t realize that his set of facts is incorrect, or if he was simply out to make a dramatic splash.

Nobel Prize winner (and know-it-all) Paul Krugman Gets Crushed By a Blogger

Paul Krugman is an economist who spends his time explaining how everything Left is right everything Right is wrong.  He recently wrote a piece in which he used an argument many union supporters have been using lately–that school performance in non-union states is worse than in union states.  Unfortunately, he didn’t do the full research.  Blogger David Burge pulls out the facts and proceeds to completely crush Krugman’s argument:

Please pardon this brief departure from my normal folderol, but every so often a member of the chattering class issues a nugget of stupidity so egregious that no amount of mockery will suffice. Particularly when the issuer of said stupidity holds a Nobel Prize.

Case in point: Paul Krugman. The Times’ staff economics blowhard recently typed, re the state of education in Texas:

Continued here: Longhorns 17, Badgers 1

Georgia Legislature Considering Bill to Require Proof of Citizenship

Republicans won’t pass a bill to allow Sunday alcohol sales, but evidently, verifying a candidate’s citizenship is much more important!

Georgia has become the 10th state to require proof of citizenship for a presidential candidate before they are allowed to be put on the ballot:

Even though Hawaii officials have repeatedly confirmed Obama’s citizenship, his birth certificate has been made public and courts have rebuffed challenges, the so-called ”birther” issue hasn’t gone away.

Georgia Rep. Mark Hatfield, a Republican, said he still doesn’t know if Obama is eligible to serve as president, and 92 of his GOP colleagues and one Democrat support the bill introduced Monday.

”Most people feel it’s an issue to a significant enough portion of our population that it needs to be addressed by the state,” Hatfield said. ”It is, in a sense, a response to … the sitting president and his inability or unwillingness to release his original birth certificate.”

Lets be clear. This is nothing but playing politics. Somehow, these folks don’t realize how stupid they look. If there is anything about this that is shocking, its that one of the sponsors is a Democrat.
Need proof that Georgia deserves the bottom ranking for education in the US? Just look at our politicians.

If Andy Stern’s ideas came true, I might become a union fan

In a Washington Post article/interview, columnist Ezra Klein interviews Andy Stern, former head of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).  I’ve heard a number of things he has said in the past that did nothing to pull me over to the pro-union side.  However, in the interview, he mentions a number of things that would actually think twice about my stance if they were status quo in America.  the article can be read here but here are a few quotes that jumped out at me.
On a “collaborative process:”

We have this anti-employer, they’re going to kill us we need to kill them first, mentality. We’ve done a very bad job, for instance, making alliances with small businesses.

We need an ideology based around working with employers to build skills in our workers, to train them for success. That message and approach can attract different people than the “we need to stand up for the working class!” approach. That approach is about conflict, and a lot of people don’t want more conflict.

On working together with employers:

We’ve never, as a union movement, promoted partnerships with employers where we talk about how to share in success and in skills and training. You say those things in the labor movement and they go over well with workers and employers and badly with activists. To the activists, this is sell-out language.

On the Democrat Party and unions:

The forces that don’t like unions there have largely finished with us. And now they’re moving to the public sector. But part of this story is that the Democratic Party hasn’t embraced unions in the last 20 years. Republicans understood unions as an ally of the Democratic Party. But unions couldn’t get Democrats to embrace unions as a response. They made the argument that making more union members was how you make more Democrats, and that argument is true, but they couldn’t get the Democratic Party to really embrace that theory.

The rest of the interview and the questions asked can be read here: “Andy Stern: ‘It may not end beautifully in Wisconsin.'”

So Much for Transparency…

One of the pledges made by then-Senator Obama on the campaign trail was a new era of unprecedented transparency.  And in some ways, he has kept that promise.  But a recent article puts a dark mark on that record:

Caught between their boss’ anti-lobbyist rhetoric and the reality of governing, President Barack Obama’s aides often steer meetings with lobbyists to a complex just off the White House grounds — and several of the lobbyists involved say they believe the choice of venue is no accident.

It allows the Obama administration to keep these lobbyist meetings shielded from public view — and out of Secret Service logs kept on visitors to the White House and later released to the public.

Read more: Lobbyists: White House sends meetings off-site to hide them

Are you a protesting teacher in Wisconsin? Need a doctor’s note? No problem!!

One thing that came to mind about the protests in Wisconsin is that the individual school districts could (and should) come down hard on all the teachers that skipped work to protest, causing widespread school closings.  I figured there would be no way they could get away with it without a doctor’s excuse.

Well, I guess someone else thought of that, too:

The funny thing is, these folks know good and well what they are doing is fraud, but have their “defense” already prepared when asked, especially the doctor who decided to get all snarky with the camera person.  Its situations like those when one wishes the person behind the camera was a little more quick with the wit to bring the guy down a notch.

Plus, how many of us would be able to call a random doctor and get a doctor’s excuse on the fly?

More info here: Fake Doctors’ Notes Being Handed Out at Wisconsin Gov. Union Rally

Revisiting the notion that only the Right does hateful rhetoric

As the protesters in Wisconsin are happy to show (and as I have been saying for a while now), the left is perfectly capable of the hateful rhetoric that supposedly is exclusive to the right.  Yes, the video is from the Wisconsin GOP (for those who care), but the evidence is clear.

Follow up to my story on protesting at private residences

A quick follow-up to my previous post as to whether or not it goes to far to protest at someone’s private home:  Here is a good Washington Examiner article about how DC residents went and protested at the home of the Speaker of the House:

Nearly two dozen activists from DC Vote swarmed House Speaker John Boehner’s Capitol Hill residence at 7:30 Thursday morning, chanting “Don’t tread of D.C.” and “No taxation without representation” to protest congressional “meddling” in the District’s local affairs, in particular a House continuing budget resolution that would cut $80 million in federal payments and prohibit the city from using local funds to pay for needle exchange programs and abortions.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: Group targets Speaker Boehner’s (small-h) house

Just a thought: is it going to far to protest at someone’s house?

In one of the articles about the ongoing protests in Wisconsin, it was mentioned that protesters were not only at the capital building, but also at the governor’s house.  Seeing that reminded me of incidents reported after AIG gave their executives bonuses, and protesters loaded vans and set up shop outside the residences of AIG employees and executives in an effort to guilt them into returning the bonus money.

Other reports of people protesting at (and doing damage to) politician’s homes, as well as unions and other organizations handing out flyers with home addresses of protest targets are readily available on the web.  Which made me wonder:  is that taking things too far?

Lets acknowledge that there is a right to assemble.  There is also freedom of speech.  But is such style of protest really a peaceful move?  I would say no.   When you show up at someone’s residence, it is by default an attempt at intimidation.  “We know where you live!” is the message given by such actions.  I say its taking things too far.  Besides, how would these protesters respond if the person being targeted responded by hiring security to come in and create an opposing show of force?  What if counter-protesters showed up at the houses of the protesters?  I can hear the howls of…well, of protest.

More on the Wisconsin fiasco

The wackiness in Wisconsin over proposed changes to collective bargaining for government employees just keeps getting…wackier.  Is that a word?  Well, for today, it is.  Democrats in the Wisconsin Senate have been on the lam for 3 days, preventing any further work in the Senate.  Attempts to have then retrieved and compelled to attend by state law enforcement were stymied by a simple counter move:  all 14 of the Dems in question jumped on a bus and have taken “refuge” in Illinois.  By crossing state lines, Wisconsin troopers can’t come get them, and Illinois law enforcement isn’t going to get involved.  From the Dems:

“This is a watershed moment unlike any that we have experienced in our political lifetimes,” Miller said. “The people have shown that the government has gone too far. . . . We are prepared to do what is necessary to make sure that this bill gets the consideration it needs.”

Sen. Bob Jauch (D-Poplar) said the decision on when to return had not been made yet. Sen. Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) said Democrats were prepared to stay away “as long as it takes.”

In a situation like this, one has to wonder which set of “people” should have the most say in this? The people that are part of the union, with something to lose? Or the people that elected the politicians (and in this case put Republicans in power in Wisconsin)?

Another great article on this comes from Patrick McIlheran in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel called Unions want to overturn election result where he not only makes the point about the will of the electorate, but also makes a very important point in regards to public sector unions:

They insist this is the end of unionization in government, something to which they have as much right, they say, as anyone else.

But they miss a bedrock difference. Unions in the private sector are a way of organizing private interests, those of employees, against other private interests, those of a company’s owners, for economic gain and for protection against unfairness. In government, workers are already protected against unfairness by civil service laws, and Walker has supported expanding those. Economically, government unions pit a private interest, that of employees, against the public’s interest, that of taxpayers and voters.

Private sector unions are one thing. But personally, the idea of a group demanding more perks, paid for by taxpayer money, that are over and beyond what the normal taxpayer gets, gives me pause. Isn’t it enough that public sector unions use what is essentially taxpayer money to support candidates of their choosing, donating millions to politicians that will further their interests?

Wait. That’s another story for another day.

In Wisconsin, the line between Unions/Dems and Repubs is drawn in the sand

In the state of Wisconsin, the state government has a $3.6 billion shortfall.  Similar to other state legislatures across the country, they are coming up with a number of measures to attempt to close the budget hole.  One of the ways new Republican governor Scott Walker has proposed has created an outcry from teachers and unions:

In addition to eliminating collective bargaining rights, the legislation also would make public workers pay half the costs of their pensions and at least 12.6 percent of their health care coverage — increases Walker calls “modest” compared with those in the private sector.

According to Walker, the proposal will save $300 million over the next two years. But Dems are not at all happy with what they see as being deprived of a right. Teachers have staged massive “sick outs” so that they can protest. Democrats in the Wisconsin legislature have left and gone into hiding to prevent any vote from occurring. Protesters at the capital have been heard chanting “Freedom! Democracy! Unions!”

Wait. Did they actually include the word “unions” with freedom and democracy? Wow.  I thought democracy is people getting out to vote, voting in politicians whose job it is to steward taxpayer money, and make cuts when necessary when there is a deficit, even if the other side doesn’t like it.  Which would mean the unions are actually trying to stifle a democratic process by protesting and causing school closings.  But I digress.

Having spent my entire young working life in a right-to-work, merit pay environment, I have yet to develop much sympathy or support for unions. I admire the important things they helped with over the years (40 hour work week, child labor laws, ect). But am I supposed to be upset because they wouldn’t be able to force people to pay union dues? That they wouldn’t be able to to negotiate for things other than pay? Or that they would have to pay more money for pension and benefits just like most of us in the private sector?
Sorry, but I say no. Especially when taxpayer’s money is involved.

Links to the story can be found here and here.

Never thought i’d see it: Dems accusing Repubs of cutting too much defense spending!

Usually, Dems will yell at the right for never cutting defense spending. But in an interesting move, the shoe is on the other foot.

Since there is no official budget in place, the government is being funded through continuing resolutions–in short, declarations that say the government will continue to be funded at current levels temporarily. In the latest offering, republicans have suggested a number of deep spending cuts, including to the department of defense. But the president isn’t having it, saying he will veto the GOP spending measure:

“The statement said the GOP proposal goes too far and proposes cuts that would sharply undermine core government functions and investments key to economic growth and job creation, and would reduce funding for the Department of Defense to a level that would leave the department without the resources and flexibility needed to meet vital military requirements.”

Expect this drama to drag on for a while.

Neither party is serious about debt, and the joke is on us

As of today, to pay off the entire US debt would require every US citizen to write a check for $45,400.  EVERY citizen.  The total debt is right at $14.1 TRILLION.  And neither party is really serious about doing something about it.

On the right, they are making a lot of noise, but as the saying goes, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  First, after promising to cut $100 billion in spending from the next budget, they are only able to come up with about $65 billion.  After being called to task by the Tea Party, they are able to dig and find the promised $100 billion.  The problem?  Not only are the cuts based on a budget that President Obama never sent to the House, but they also used the infamous “baseline budgeting” tricks.

Quick refresher:  Baseline budgeting is a technique where by the budget of a particular department or organization is projected years in advance.  Typically, those budgets include an already-applied increase in funding.  So, a department may already have on paper that in 2011, they will be funded at $10 million, but due to a budget increase already factored in, they may know that their budget in 2012 will have $10.3 million due to an expected 3% increase in funding.

What republicans have done is to say “we are going to cut x billions,” not acknowledging that instead of truly cutting funding, they are simply reducing the already scheduled budget increase.  So instead of cutting a department’s funding from $10 million to $9 million, they are simply advocating cutting the 3% increase to 2% or some other number.  The cut isn’t really a cut.

Further, in the “fraud waste and abuse” category, some republicans are on board with funding a 2nd, alternative engine for the F-35 Lightning II project.  The F-35 is slated to replace thousands of fighter jets in the US inventory, and the building effort is being shared across many countries, including the US, Canada, the UK, and Turkey.  The engines for the plane are made by Rolls Royce, but there is an effort in Congress to secure funding for a second engine.  The reasoning given is “in case the first one has problems,” but the real reason is to secure jobs and a contract for an American firm.  Even the Pentagon has said they don’t want it.

Democrats aren’t helping.  Even thought the White House has proposed cutting funding to some programs (like a heating oil assistance program), many Dems refuse to go along with any proposed cuts in “entitlement” spending.   Though everything should be on the table, dems are resisting anything that might touch Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.  Obama and the democrats have also been using the baseline budgeting trick, especially with the healthcare reform bill.  Once again, a cut isn’t really a cut.

For there to be real solutions, someone on both sides needs to wake up and wake up their fellow politicians to the real threat they all know about but are afraid to do something about (don’t want to mess up their reelection chances!).  The recommendations of the Debt Committee would be a good place to start.

Reagan is Conservatism’s Patron Saint But Would Never Get Elected By Today’s GOP

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

Image via Wikipedia

Aside from Feb. 6th being Super Bowl Sunday, it was also what would’ve been President Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday.  As Reagan is considered a hero by many on the right, there have been remembrances, dedications, shout outs, flashbacks, and countless other looks back on Reagan and his legacy in the last week.  Of course, folks on the left are having none of that, understandably choosing to focus more on those “accomplishments” that they feel did more bad than good.

I (as is often the case) am in the middle on Reagan.  I wouldn’t call him a hero, but then again, I wouldn’t try to back over him with a MARTA bus, either.  But I’m pretty convinced that based on his overall record, if an exact Reagan clone popped up today and attempted to run for President saying he would do exactly as Reagan did and be exactly as Reagan was, he wouldn’t even make it out of the primaries.  Why?  Simple.  Reagan doesn’t fit the mold of today’s Republican.

First, there is his track record on taxes.  In 1981, Reagan signed the The Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981 also known as the ERTA or “Kemp-Roth Tax Cut.”  The top marginal rate for personal income taxes went from 70% to 50%, and the bottom rate dropped from 14% to 11%.   In general, the Act lowered marginal tax rates on average 23% across the board.  He also lowered taxes in 1986.  After that, the top marginal rate was 28%.  While tax revenues decreased over the short term, over the long term there was not only an increase in the amount of tax revenues to the government, but also a long period of economic growth.  But, that’s not the entire story.

As the budget deficit grew, Reagan knew something had to be done.  So, he signed into law legislation that, in essence, were tax increases.   Bills signed in 1982 and 1984 closed tax loopholes and increased the tax base by making more transactions taxable.  The 1986 reform bill eliminated many deductions that high income earners had been allowed to use, increasing their tax bills.  In the end, his tax increases actually increased tax revenue to the government and offset much of the revenue lost from the earlier tax cuts.

In 1982, Reagan led efforts to privatize Social Security.  Not only did it not work, but (as is usually the case in midterms) the GOP lost many seats in the following elections.  In 1983 he signed legislation that bailed out Social Security.  Pricetag:  $165 billion. Results of the bailout included higher  payroll taxes for higher income earners and the self-employed, expanded the system to include federal workers, and made Social Security benefits taxable.

These tax increases are rarely mentioned.  In today’s environment, once it came to light, the Reagan-clone would get skewered for ever considering tax increases as fiscal policy.

The national debt also tripled under Reagan.  It went over $1 trillion during his first year, and was $3 trillion when he left.  Of course, that was a bipartisan effort, as the House was under Democrat control all 8 years of his presidency, and the Senate was for 2 of his 8 years.  But evidently, veto wasn’t an option.  Of course, many will say that much of the spending was to counter the Soviet Union.  But SOMEONE has to account for the money vacuum that was SDI, which never worked.

Among other things that are rarely mentioned:

  • Reagan promised to reduce the size of government, in part by eliminating the Departments of Energy and Education.  Instead, he added a new Department of Veterans Affairs.
  • There was little done in the way to reduce government spending over Reagan’s 2 terms.
  • Many will always repeat Reagan’s call to Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” and say “see?  you have to be tough!”  In actuality, Reagan and Gorbachev nearly agreed to eliminate ALL nuclear weapons from each country’s arsenal.  Plus, to help Gorbachev enact reform, the US reduced defense spending in the latter part of Reagan’s second term.  How’s that for “peace through strength?”

Finally, the the proverbial straw that would bring our Reagan-clone’s hopes to an end–and yet one more point rarely mentioned–is immigration.  In 1982, Reagan signed a bill that allowed any illegal alien in the US before that year to be eligible for amnesty.  Yep, blanket amnesty.  In today’s environment, that would be a big no-no.

In the end, Reagan gains sainthood by default.  For those keeping up with conservative politics, there is no one else that can take his place.  Nixon resigned.  Ford was considered weak.  Bush I lost his reelection bid despite removing Saddam Hussein from Kuwait (taxes played a role in his defeat).  Bush II had two terms, but many on the right don’t consider him conservative enough.  So who is left?  No one but the Gipper.  But he’d never make it today.

DNC picks Charlotte for 1012 convention, and supporters are not happy

Recently, the Democratic National Committee announced that their 2012 convention–where we presume that President Obama will be nominated as the Dem presidential candidate unopposed–will be held in Florida.  This decision has many on the left quite upset.  Why?  Well, its no secret that unions have a lot of sway and influence with the party, but it turns out, North Carolina is the least union state in the country:

North Carolina has another distinction: it’s the least union state in the country, with just 3.2% of its workers belonging to a union (coming behind even Arkansas, Georgia, and Mississippi). And the DNC’s host city of Charlotte has exactly 0 (zero) union hotels in which the 15,000+ visitors will stay for the convention. Finally, the host venue in Charlotte, the Time Warner Cable Arena, does not appear to have any union workers. (I called the arena; the operator laughed at the notion that employees would be union members, and a press contact hasn’t replied yet.)

I’m actually impressed. Both sides of the aisle have their “special interest groups” that they kneel to, and Dems definitely bow at the altar of the unions. So to see this happen is a surprise. However, I predict that between now and convention time, Dems and the unions will find a way to inject themselves into the situation one way or another.

Article here:DNC’s Union-Free 2012 Convention

Another ruling against the healthcare bill

As has been widely reported, U. S. District Judge Roger Vinson ruled on Monday that the requirement to make individuals purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. Not only did he rule against that provision, he ruled against the entire law:

“I must conclude that the individual mandate and the remaining provisions are all inextricably bound together in purpose and must stand or fall as a single unit,” Vinson wrote.

As expected, the White House announced they would appeal. But what does this mean for the law?
Republicans announced right after the bill was passed that they would do whatever they could to repeal it. The House has already voted to repeal, and conservatives believe they can use procedural techniques to force a repeal vote in the Democrat-held Senate. But somewhere, Dems are nervous. While there have been two judges that upheld the new law, and now two that have ruled against, it’s highly likely the argument will not be settled until reaching the Supremes. Currently, the court leans conservatively, with no change in sight. This would seem to bode well for the right and not so well for the left–though stranger things have happened in regards to the court and their judgements (look up “Kelo” and “imminent domain“).

What to expect from the State of the Union speech

Well, we’ve come to that time of the year again where we get to hear the pleasant present state of our Union. A quick history:

Seal of the President of the United States

Image via Wikipedia

  • The first SOTU address was by George Washington on January 8, 1791 in NYC.
  • Thomas Jefferson started mailing it in in 1801.  Literally.  He began th e practic e of writing the speech and having it read to Congress by a clerk.
  • Woodrow Wilson restarted the read-in-person tradition in 1913.

So, what can we expect this evening from President Obama?  Well, one would have to assume (and hope) that the most important topic of discussion will be jobs and the economy.  No doubt he will say that the previous stimulus was a success (though there is a lot of debate about that), and maybe even mention again that if not for that, the unemployment rate would be worse.  But I’m sure there will be some discussion of bipartisan efforts to get the economy really moving.

We should also hear something about debt reduction.  This will be a tricky area for the President and I wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t address it at all.  The response to the report from his Debt Commission was predictable–Republicans were upset about talk of tax increases and cuts to defense, while Democrats were opposed to spending cuts and eliminating tax deductions, not to mention making changes to Social Security (even though those changes would kick in around the time today’s 4 year olds will draw retirement).  If he steps up and emphasizes that people will need to buck up and take the pain, I’ll definitely give him props.  Especially since the bulk of the criticism would come from his own party, still mad at him for caving to Republicans on the extension of the Bush tax rates and on cutting payroll taxes.

With the recent shootings in Arizona, President Obama will definitely spend some time addressing the tone of rhetoric in the political sphere.  He will probably avoid pointing fingers at one party or another, but the topic can’t be ignored.  The aide to Gabby Giffords who helped save her life is supposed to be there so expect that to be one of the bipartisan applause moments.

Speaking of bipartisan, many members of Congress, in an effort to show unity, are crossing the aisles to mix with members of the opposing party.  Some are simply sitting with members of their own state’s delegation, while others are reaching out to colleagues they have known for years.  It will be an interesting visual, especially during those times during the speech when the President tends to make a comment that one party (or the other) stands and applauds.

So, lets get the popcorn ready.

This picture is priceless!

Chinese president Hu Jintao is on an official visit to Washington this week. While they were giving a joint press conference, this picture was taken:

There are so many possible captions for this one, I don’t know where to start.  President Obama looks like he is about to backhand President Hu for talking about his mom or something!

Hmmm, more clear evidence that its only the consevatives that are violent

It seems I’ve spent a good bit of blog time this past week trying to show that yes, lefty rhetoric is at least equal to that from the right.  It also seems that many on the left will never accept this, no matter how much evidence is shown to them.  That’s ok.  After a while, one either accepts it or just continues to look out of touch.  Just a few more bits of how nice and polite the gentle left is…

From Big Journalism:  someone posts a nice, pleasant message on Twitter about Palin, then gets upset that it gets publicity and asks youtube to take it down due to “privacy issues.”

The result was this video, Twitter Users Wish Death on Sarah Palin, originally posted at YouTube. It’s since been cross-posted on Vimeo because of a takedown notice they received from YouTube in response to a privacy complaint. That’s right, one of the haters who was brave enough to publicly tweet her yearning for the death of a former Governor and Vice Presidential candidate is now suddenly concerned for her Twitter privacy.

A politician says new Florida gov Rick Scott should be put up against a wall and shot. Guess which was a Dem and which was a Repub:

“That Scott down there that’s running for governor of Florida,” an Oct. 23 Times-Tribune story quoted Kanjorski as complaining. “Instead of running for governor of Florida, they ought to have him and shoot him. Put him against the wall and shoot him.”

Ok, we can safely say “point proven” and move on.

Via OCD3 and CNN: Palin ain’t Reagan

Much debate has been had about Sarah Palin and pinning blame on her regarding the Arizona shootings.  I’ve had an interesting time with this–balancing my opinion that she shouldn’t be blamed the way the left is applying blame to her and the right, while trying not to come across as a Palin fan, which I am not.  Still, I appreciate different perspectives, and my good friend (and Front and Center contributor OCD3) caught this article on CNN and recommended I post it.  In it, Paul Begala explains how “Palin is no Ronald Regan:”

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan

Image via Wikipedia

When she first burst on the national scene, I watched her convention speech an

d could not imagine Ronald

Reagan delivering it. She was sarcastic and caustic and harsh — everything Reagan was not. I felt the same thing watching her post-Arizona video presentation. The Gipper was a tough partisan and a strong conservative, but he had a sunny, optimistic worldview and a resilient, Teflon manner that slipped

punches, drawing in even those who disagreed with him, and driving Democrats to distraction.

Reagan understood the biblical wisdom that “A soft answer turneth away wrath, but grievous words stir up anger.” Palin seems hell-bent on using the most grievous words (including the calumnyblood libel“) to stir up still more anger: the one thing we already have a surplus of.

Palin’s Map or when crosshairs aren’t really crosshairs

Interesting article on Townhall from Neal Boortz.  Whether or not you like him as a host, he actually makes an interesting comparison.  While members in the Palin camp say that the marks on her infamous Facebook map were not crosshairs (and Boortz backs this up), there are other maps that do depict bullseyes with politicians as targets–and they were created by Democrats:

OK … just what map are we talking about here? Several months ago during the heat of the 2008 midterm elections Sarah Palin put Giffords on her “target list” of Democrats in vulnerable districts who voted for ObamaCare. The list included a map featuring what the media and those on the left are calling telescopic sight images placed over vulnerable districts. Somehow, the liberals have construed that to mean that Sarah Palin literally wanted to “target” Giffords to be shot.

More on the shooting in AZ of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

From the UK Daily Mail, “America’s elite hijack a massacre to take revenge of Sarah Palin:”

History shows how dangerous it is to try to second-guess the motives of political assassins.

John Hinckley shot Ronald Reagan because he was obsessed with the actress Jodie Foster, not because he hated Right-wingers.

Likewise, Lynette Fromme tried to shoot Gerald Ford because she revered the cult killer Charles Manson.

But those lessons from ­history won’t stop some Democrats exploiting the shooting of a nine-year-old girl and five others at the weekend with precisely the sort of foam-flecked over-reaction for which they love to condemn their opponents on the Right.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1345952/Arizona-shooting-Americas-elite-hijacked-massacre-revenge-Sarah-Palin.html#ixzz1Aq64ytkB

From Reason.com, “The Extreme Rhetoric about Extreme Rhetoric:”

But this debate about the “tone” of American politics is ideologically unidirectional, designed not to elevate debate but to vilify a political enemy. The call for calm—with its frequent invocations of Tea Party “fascism”—is stupid partisan politics dressed up as incoherent moral politics.

From the Huffington Post, Rev Jesse Jackson weighs in on “Hate Speech in Arizona:”

In Arizona, the kindling was there. The economy has been hit hard by the financial collapse, with employment opportunities for young people particularly limited. With families losing jobs or homes, fear and depression are inevitable. Add to this a venomous, racially charged debate on immigration and health care reform, as well as some of the worst gun-control laws in the country.

And a good one from David Harsanyi at RealClearPolitics, “A Phony Climate of Hate:”

The always-civil Jacob Weisberg of Slate was more forceful in this regard, claiming that “at the core of the far right’s culpability is its ongoing attack on the legitimacy of U.S. government.”

Which, as you know, should not be confused with those heady times liberals claimed that George W. Bush was “not my president” or that we needed a “regime change at home.” That kind of talk strengthened the legitimacy of government. Just as the “far right” — and I will assume this consists of anyone not named David Frum — could probably make the case that demanding government honor its constitutional limits is a demand for legitimacy.

We can argue about those things, I know. We can cobble together stupid remarks by radio talk show hosts or union activists or members of Congress and smear half the country. We can play tit for tat with tea party banners and anti-war bumper stickers and dig up some figurative rhetoric that sounds over-the-top retroactively and blow it out of proportion.

Five myths about why the South wanted to secede.

Crazy man shoots congresswoman–and its Palin’s fault??

By now most people have heard that a crazy lunatic, Jared Loughner, showed up at an event being hosted by Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and not only shot her in the head, but killed 6 and wounded others.  People who knew the guy describe him as being mentally disturbed.  He’d been kicked out of school due to his behavior.   As far back as 2007, a person in a class he was taking described him as being a “left-wing pothead.”  Another said he was the type of person one would see on TV who shot up a classroom at school.  In general, he is a guy whose brain is not firing on all cylinders.

Evidently, that doesn’t matter to supporters of the left anxious to find an explanation.  Who is to blame for all of this?  Why, Sarah Palin, of course!

Palin posted on her facebook page a number of congressional districts that were to be targeted by Republicans, and they were put in crosshairs.  In spite of no evidence that the shooter had even seen this, left-leaning bloggers and journalists immediately blamed Palin and her webpage (along with the harsh level of political rhetoric flying around these days) for the shooter’s behavior.  Logic would say that this is a reach.  But who says folks are logical?

The behavior is totally opposite to the call for calm that came after the Fort Hood shooting in 2009:

On November 5, 2009, Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire at a troop readiness center in Ft. Hood, Texas, killing 13 people.  Within hours of the killings, the world knew that Hasan reportedly shouted “Allahu Akbar!” before he began shooting, visited websites associated with Islamist violence, wrote Internet postings justifying Muslim suicide bombings, considered U.S. forces his enemy, opposed American involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as wars on Islam, and told a neighbor shortly before the shootings that he was going “to do good work for God.”  There was ample evidence, in other words, that the Ft. Hood attack was an act of Islamist violence.

Nevertheless, public officials, journalists, and commentators were quick to caution that the public should not “jump to conclusions” about Hasan’s motive.  CNN, in particular, became a forum for repeated warnings that the subject should be discussed with particular care.

“The important thing is for everyone not to jump to conclusions,” said retired Gen. Wesley Clark on CNN the night of the shootings.

“We cannot jump to conclusions,” said CNN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell that same evening. “We have to make sure that we do not jump to any conclusions whatsoever.”

So, let’s get this straight.  A person that can be tied to those we all consider terrorists goes and shoots up a base, and people are saying “let’s not jump to conclusions.”  A person with no obvious ties goes and shoots a Democrat member of Congress, and we get “it’s Palin’s fault.”  Yes, that makes a whole lot of sense to me.

Very interesting start to the Republican takeover

The fun has begun. The 112th Congress has been sworn in, signaling the start of what folks on the right hope is a successful effort to take over DC in 2012. But things are getting off to a very wacky start.
First, the decision was made to hold a vote to repeal the healthcare reform bill, aka “Obamacare.” The chance of this going through is somewhere between zero and minus ten percent. But as is the case when the new team takes power, they have to make an immediate splash, and this is it.
But, wait! Hold the phone!
Shortly after the votes were held, its discovered that 2 members who participated in votes had not been sworn in with the rest of the House members, rendering their votes invalid. To their credit, House Dems didn’t use the opportunuty to call for a re-vote. But who forgets to come into the chamber for the swear-in? (Both members were out in the lobby with constituents and said the oath, but rules say they basically have to be in the chamber.)
On top of all that, after changing the rules for how bills are debated and amended, they then bypassed their own new rules.
This is going to be interesting to watch.

Politicians: Let’s wait to avoid the political fallout

United States Capitol in daylight

Image via Wikipedia

One would think that politicians in Congress would think it normal to work all the time.  But it seems that there is usually a good excuse to be used every election year:  wait until after the election to avoid fallout.

What?  Are you serious?

I along with many other people believe in a saying that goes:  “what’s a politician’s primary job?  To get reelected!”  Now, maybe it’s that I don’t understand the game, or wouldn’t want to be a player in the game, or just think the game is stupid.  But to me, if I’m in congress to get things done and represent the people, then I should be constantly working on the important legislation of the day, and letting the chips fall where they may.  But let’s look at how the waiting game has been played by looking at the current lame-duck session.

In the last few weeks, there have been votes on bills to extend current tax rates, dont’ ask don’t tell, and the extention of unemployment benefits.  While some politicians (namely Dems) said before the election that they “didn’t have the votes needed to pass (insert legislation here)” before the election, other politicians went on record condemning the action.

Quite frankly, the entire “we have to pass it now or the unemployed will lose their benefits and everyone will get a tax increase” drama was unnecessary.  Regardless of what we heard in the media, are we to believe that there was seriously a concerted effort to hammer out those issues before the election?  I think not.  Both sides sensed blood in the water, and for the side in danger, they didn’t want to put themselves in a worse position.  Don’t want to do anything that might jeopardize the free access to the Congressional spa, do we?

using religion to guilt people about giving to the poor is the in thing to do

Stained glass at St John the Baptist's Anglica...

Image via Wikipedia

While checking out the recent Facebook status updates and feeds, I noticed that a few of my friend posted a Colbert clip where he humorously speaks of how Jesus would be a liberal.  As his argument goes (like others i’ve heard), because legislation giving help to the poor, or unemployed, or less fortunate, ect doesn’t get passed, or when people don’t want to jump on board the single payer healthcare train, people who claim to be Christian aren’t being very Christian-like.  In fact, they are being quite selfish!  Quite often, the argument is used by left-leaners against conservatives.  After all, aren’t those republicans always claiming to be religious?  and doesn’t their religion say to give??

There are serious holes in this method of argument that always seem to get ignored.  First, if we are going to look at how Jesus did things, he spoke directly to the people to give.  I don’t know of a time when Jesus was advocating for the government to grab folks’ stuff and do the giving for them.  When the government gets involved, wacky things happen.  Projected costs get understated.  Budgets get blown.  And when it comes to spending, once it starts, they rarely want to make cuts.

Second, often the same folks that get criticized because they don’t want the government digging in their pockets are already giving in some way or another.   Could be to a local charity or non-profit, or to their church.  so I guess for them, the argument is “well, they need to give more” or “well, they can afford it.”  Really?  Any reason to get what one needs, I guess…

Its a trip that in this day and time, folks believe they have a right to something that forcefully takes someone else’s time, talent, money, ect.  “Rights” aren’t constructed that way.

“Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”: DADT is now D-E-A-D

Over the weekend, Congress voted to repeal the controversial “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” rule.  For those not in the know, the rule–put in place under President Clinton–prohibited gay military members from being “out” while serving.  After much fighting, screaming, kicking, and gnashing of teeth, the vote over the weekend begins  what will be a months-long process to eliminate the provision and allow people to…well, just be themselves.

Of course, there are many who don’t like what has happened.  Many of a conservative mindset when it comes to homosexuality (whether Dem or Repub) are unhappy, because this represents the idea that being gay is ok.  But the biggest blowup has come from some of the leaders of the branches of the military.  No less than the head of the Marines said that the repeal would result in soldiers losing life and limb.  Others have said it will be detrimental to morale.

Really?  Corporal Joe Doe being gay is going to completely undermine the unit?

Let’s look at reality here (no disrespect to those leaders, who have many years of serving their country under their belts).  First, other top notch militaries in the world have allowed gay soldiers to serve openly for years, and they are quoted as saying that allowing that to happen has been a non-event.  Second, Joe isn’t going to all of a sudden stop being an accurate shooter, or not want to make sure he has his fellow soldier’s back just because he’s now openly gay; likewise, other soldiers won’t assume that Joe being “out” is going to make them less effective.  Finally, one point my barber (ex-Navy) mentioned, the people in the unit probably know ALREADY that Joe is gay.

Furthermore, what people don’t realize is that there isn’t going to be this sudden increase of incidents where gay dudes (lets be real–folks usually think gay men here) start playing grab-butt in the common shower.  The Uniform Code of Military Justice is very clear and strict in regards to fraternization and harrassment (example:  in civilian life, adultery isn’t a crime.  in the military, you could end up in Leavenworth for it).  Any gay soldier is going to behave like a true, professional soldier.  Just like they were doing before.

In the end, its like this:  break it up folks, nothing to see here.

to pass a bill they say we can’t afford, let’s make it MORE expensive

An article out today explains how Senator Harry Reid has added some things to the Obama tax cut deal to help get it passed. Confusing, since much has been said about how the agreement does nothing to help with the deficit, and how the tax rate cuts for the higher income earners is unaffordable:

The sweeping tax cut bill introduced Thursday night by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is chock-full of sweeteners which could serve as a legislative pacifier for Democrats outraged over the concessions President Obama has handed to Republicans.

The stimulus-sized package includes about $55 billion worth of short-term tax extensions for businesses and individuals. They cover a host of alternative energy credits, a potential salve for environmentally conscious lawmakers, as well as targeted benefits for everything from the film and television industry to mining companies to rum producers.

Senate Tax Cut Package Filled With Sweeteners, Obama Predicts Passage

So, the answer to unaffordability? Make it more expensive!

Give Greta some points!!

I stumbled upon Greta Van Susteren’s show last night.  I rarely watch the show, but last night what caught my attention is that she was interviewing politicians from both sides of the aisle in regards to the Obama tax rate cut deal.

She was my hero for the night!  I can’t think of the last time I saw someone digging into politicians, not taking a side, but getting on them for their performance in general.  Her first victim was Senator Mary Landrieu from Lousiana.  While Senator Landrieu wanted to to do the typical talking points, Greta made points of her own.  She repeatedly said it was “borderline moral recklessness” that congress had waited until the last minute for political reasons to try to get such a deal passed, and she also pointed out that congress was being irresponsible by not doing more to eliminate fraud, waste, and abuse (research how some in congress want a second engine for the joint strike fighter, but the Pentagon doesn’t want it).  Further, she pointed out that while folks were saying certain tax rate cuts were unaffordable, there hasn’t even been a budget passed so no one even knows how much money is needed to run the government for the next year.

Link to the video and the other videos of her gettin it in on the politicians is here:  Greta vs Landrieu

Obama can’t win for losing

Last night, the President announced a compromise on tax rate cut extensions and unemployment benefits.  He threw in a few other pieces (including a Social Securit

Barack in Cedar Rapids, IA 10/29/07

Image by Barack Obama via Flickr

y rate cut) and implored his party to come on board.

It seems he’s not getting the love.

Members of the right are furious.  For them, its not enough to get the desired tax rate cut extensions and an extension of unemployment benefits.  In their eyes, Obama has sold out for agreeing to extend the tax rate cuts for “millionaires and billionaires.”  Add that to how he increased troops in Afghanistan and hasn’t closed Guantanamo Bay yet, and he has some liberals apoplectic.  Searching Google for “liberals furious with Obama” brings up a ton of links that popped up in less than 24 hours, all at various levels of ticked off-ness and disbelief.  Comments range from “fight harder” to “Obama got rolled” to “Obama caved so hard it scared the bats!” (the last one from the Huffington Post).  It will be interesting to see the intraparty fight that will follow in the coming days.

Debt reduction: Andy Stern wants MORE taxes!

Who is Andy Stern?

Andy Stern is one of the people President Obama appointed to the Debt Reduction commission.  In the final vote, Stern voted no.  But this shouldn’t be surprising.  Stern is the past president of the Service Employees International Union (if you didn’t know unions are one of Obama’s favorite special interests, now you know).  His take on the plan?  from the NY Post:

“This is the issue of our time that must be solved,” said labor leader Andy Stern, who nonetheless voted “no” because he favored fewer spending cuts and more tax increases.
Unfortunately (and my left-leaning friends can’t deny this), it is a trait of the left that the answer to all revenue problems is to increase taxes.  Nevermind that there is proof from history that lowering taxes raises revenue in many cases.  The further problem is, even if the tax revenues did increase from higher tax rates, history has shown that often, the Democrat way is to increase spending instead of cutting spending.
As for Stern, do a search on him and the SIEU.  He didn’t leave the union in the best shape financially, so one has to wonder how he ended up on the commission.  Then again, he is one of the most frequent visitors to the White House…

Debt reduction–when cutting spending isn’t really cutting spending

Upon further review of the Debt Commission report that got shot down last week, I found something interesting that most of us don’t even realize.

Budgets in Washington tend to factor in an automatic annual increase in spending.  In other words, every year the amount spent on a given program goes up regardless of necessity–and trust me, we all know that an organization will find a way to spend the money in order to avoid a budget cut.  Anyway, when the debt commission spoke of spending “cuts,” there was outrage from both sides (depending on the program to get the cut).  But it turns out there were smoke and mirrors involved.  The commission did not recommend actual cuts.  What they did recommend was a reduction of the annual budget increases.  In other words, they said “instead of programs x, y, and z getting automatic annual increases of 3%, lets just allow them to increase 2%.”

What??

Translation:  they couldn’t find actual spending cuts to be made!  No reductions in spending.  No freezes in spending.  Just a slowdown in growth.  Just wow.

I wish I could operate my home budget the way these folks run Washington!